Thursday, January 30, 2014

plague season

plague season

Since we last spoke, everyone in my house has been sick, some with multiple sequential ailments. In the past as a family we have generally been pretty healthy, so this has been quite an unwelcome schooling in how bad winter can suck. For the record, since the beginning of January:

>> The kids both had gross colds

>> Nico spent three days in the hospital with an asthma flare-up

>> Nico got an eye infection

>> I got a gross cold

>> Elliott spent a day being cranky and generally Not Himself and then was diagnosed with an ear infection

>> After feeling better for one day, I got a second gross cold

>> Elliott tested positive for RSV

>> MB got a gross cold

>> A weird raised red patch showed up on the side of my nose and then the lymph nodes on the left side of my face got swollen and tender and I felt like someone had punched me in the cheekbone. I went to the doctor yesterday and they told me I had a sinus infection and gave me an antibiotic prescription

>> Then today, the weird patch on my nose got worse and my left eye got red, watery, and swollen. I went back to the clinic for a big shot of antibiotics in my ass and another prescription for another antibiotic

And of course, of course, it could be so much worse. But I'm really hoping this is us getting all of our sickness out of the way for the year, rather than setting the tone for a year of various disgusting ailments.


There was this thing going around facebook last week asking people to sign up for a "pay it forward" thing and agree to send a surprise of some kind, large or small, to ten people over the course of this year. I love sending random gifts and signed up, though I'll admit I'm a little relieved I didn't get ten comments on my re-post. So far I've snagged a gift for the person whom I thought would be the hardest to find something for, plus I sent out two random non-facebook-related gifts, too. I'll have to be careful to mind the budget, but I'm happy to rediscover how much fun random gifting can be.

playground interlude

On Sunday there was a brief 55-degree break in the Polar Vortex so I took the kids to the little playground down the street. It was Elliott's first time in one of the baby swings and he loved it. Unfortunately the big kid swings and baby swings are on opposite sides of the lot, so only one kid can swing at once and the other one has to wait (im)patiently for his turn.

pretty easily amused

I'm not even sure why this was so funny to me, but I laughed until I had tears in my eyes. "I am very sorry you are all great." Hee!

This is What Happens When Americans are Asked to Label Europe and Brits are Asked to Label the US

Needless to say, I would be hopeless at this. Even as a kid I knew I'd never stand a chance at the final challenge of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, when the contestant had to put the light-up things on the correct countries. Did anyone ever actually win that game?

Reading:  Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Playing:  Led Zeppelin IV

Monday, January 20, 2014

Oh, January

Oh, January

Nico was well just long enough to go to a monster truck show and turn four (FOUR!), and then he got a gross cold followed by a fever followed by what I thought was pinkeye on Saturday morning. We postponed his birthday party by a day to give him 24 hours on his eyedrops and he seemed better. He had a really great time at his party and got some very cool toys and it was a good day. Then today his eye was swollen and angry red-purple underneath and he still had a fever. We went off to the pediatrician and got diagnosed with an actual infection and came home with a prescription for stronger eyedrops. So I'm sure he'll be fine but damn, January...back up off my kid for a little bit, huh?

The little one is de-babying way too fast for me. He's almost eleven months old and all of a sudden he can actually crawl and he pulls up to stand all the time and he has four teeth. He also says bye-bye and mama and dada and started signing more on Saturday. Before I know it he'll be a year old and I just don't think I'm ready. Not that it matters, because he certainly isn't slowing down for anything. And oh, but he's sweet. They're both so sweet.

Way back...a noon year's eve party with Nico's friends:

Double playdate

Playing together!

The happy reunion after Nico got home from the hospital:


The face of a baby betrayed by his mother's refusal to let him yank the tubing out of the breast pump. Check out the theatrical single tear!

Elliott gets a tiny bit excited about dinner:


Willingly sharing his toys with little brother

Saturday, January 18, 2014

nobody gets me

nobody gets me

me (texting from the grocery):  They have slutty olive oil. Want to try it? For the cast iron skillet.

MB:  I've never heard of it.

me:  I just mean it's not extra-virgin.

MB:  Ah.

me:  You're killing me, Smalls.

(Someone at work the next day totally did not get the You're killing me, Smalls reference. Also killing me.)

Thursday, January 09, 2014



At the beginning of the month, a nice lady named Heather contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in writing a post about gratitude. It was to be part of a series celebrating her journey as an eight-year cancer survivor. I agreed and figured I could come up with something cute about the holiday season. In the aftermath of Nico's three-day hospital stay, of course, I feel like I have a lot more to be thankful for than a nice Christmas (although I'm thankful for that, too).

I am thankful that Nico's asthma flare-up, while scary, wasn't a more serious, life-threatening condition. Sitting with him in the hospital, I was suddenly aware that doing so is some parents' long-term reality. It was a sobering thought.

I am thankful for the medical care that made his condition something manageable and treatable. I cannot imagine trying to raise a severely asthmatic child in a log cabin somewhere.

I am thankful for the competent, compassionate care Nico received from every doctor, nurse, therapist, and tech we encountered at the hospital. Even the food service workers and the housekeeper were kind.

I am thankful for the nurse who got Nico a portable oxygen tank on his second day in the hospital so he could spend an hour in the playroom.

I am thankful for our health insurance. Even with it, we'll likely be paying off bills for six months. Without it, we'd probably be financially crippled.

I am thankful that both MB's workplace and mine were understanding of our need for time off to be with our child, and for the sick leave policies that will keep us from losing three days of income.

I am thankful for the outpouring of support from friends on Twitter and facebook. Sometimes just being heard and acknowledged makes things seem less dire.

I am thankful for my parents, who took care of Elliott every day so I could be at the hospital with Nico.

I am thankful for MB. I cannot imagine a better partner or co-parent.

I am thankful for my bright, beautiful boys and I'm so thankful to have them both under the same roof again.

Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2005 and given 15 months to live. Eight years later, she continues to share her story to build hope and awareness. Learn more about Heather's journey here.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

an unexpected development

an unexpected development

Nico has been at a low but constant level of wheeziness for a month or two now. He has a prescription for a nebulizer that he can use every night if needed, which usually keeps him on track. This past Saturday, though, he just stayed wheezy despite his meds. After treating him at 8 PM, 1 AM, 6 AM, and at 9 AM Sunday, I called the weekend clinic to get him an appointment and figured it would be like the several lung-related appointments we've had since his initial probably wasn't actually croup episode back in April. I decided we weren't leaving without someone saying definitively, "this is asthma, and here are your management options." I understand why his pediatrician was hesitant to pull the trigger on an asthma diagnosis after his first episode, but this was at least our third trip since then to get a steroid prescription, so it was time to make it official. By our 11:30 appointment Nico was wheezing again and his oxygen level was only 91 at check-in. The on-call doctor listened to him breathe, sent a nurse to nebulize him again, listened to him breathe once more and then sent us to check in at the hospital next door. So, that was a bit of a surprise. I even asked if we should go home and pack a bag first and he said no, not really. Oh. Well.

I still wasn't really sure how serious things were. Nico was much better than at Easter, quite chipper really. But by 4 PM he'd had two steroid / albuterol breathing treatments and was wearing an oximeter taped to his toe. He kept dropping below 90 even after the treatments, so they put him on an oxygen cannula. I am glad beyond measure that I didn't wait until Monday to call for an appointment. He was in the hospital for three nights. We really thought we'd get to bring him home yesterday - even his doctor was almost certain - but his level dropped to 85 when he fell asleep for a nap, so he had to stay one more night. He was a complete trooper through it all and wasn't too uncomfortable thanks to prompt treatment and care. It wasn't easy, though, to leave him there with MB each night and come home to be with Elliott. Of course, while I was at the hospital with Nico, I was feeling guilty about the long hours Elliott was spending at my parents' house. An unexpected two-child problem! For his part, Elliott was also an absolute trooper despite total upheaval of our normal routine.

Nico was amazing during his hospital stay. He was mostly well-behaved, quite polite, and pretty patient. At one point, unprompted, he told his nurse, "Thank you for taking care of me!" He logged quite a bit of time watching Pooh DVDs. The first day we were there, ABC Family was on the tv in the room and they were showing a Muppet movie marathon. I'm not sure if Nico had ever seen the Muppets before, but after back-to-back viewings of Muppets' Treasure Island, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and The Muppet Movie, he seems a solid Kermit fan (I approve). He requested the Muppets several times during subsequent days, and luckily the pediatrics floor had a DVD of The Muppet Movie in their collection. Nico also got lots of mileage out of his Duplo my first construction site set, which I ordered for him when it was briefly in stock on Amazon on Christmas Eve. I had planned to save it for his birthday, but I couldn't think of a better cooped-up-in-bed toy, so MB brought it on the first day and he played with it through his whole stay. The pediatrics floor also had a playroom that they told us he'd be able to visit once he was off his oxygen, but the second day his nurse got him a portable oxygen tank so he could go down and play for an hour. I arrived to find him happily scooting around on a tricycle while MB dutifully trailed behind with the tank. (I fully recommend this method for affirming that you absolutely fell in love with and married the right person, by the way.) I think that nurse will always have a spot on my list of favorite people, just for how much fun Nico had that morning.

Monday afternoon nap. This one gives me Feelings.

I think I held it together pretty well overall. Mostly I felt grateful that Nico wasn't horribly sick and that his stay would certainly be a short one. The first night away from him wasn't too bad. I was sad about leaving him, but I still figured there was a chance it would only be for one night. I did have a good solid sad feeling once I was sitting at home in the quiet house with no Nico tucked in upstairs. At that point we thought he'd be staying Tuesday night, because the hospital doctor had warned us that asthma patients usually have to be off of supplemental oxygen for 24 hours before they can leave. But just one more night, we can do it! Maybe he'll improve really fast and get to come home early! The second night wasn't too bad because it was supposed to be his last night. I just had to get through it! The unexpected third night was the worst, compounded because Nico himself had a really hard evening after I left. He'd felt better that whole day and played a lot, off his oxygen. Then he'd only had a short, aborted nap attempt. So once I left he had two meltdowns and behaved very badly for his evening nurse. When we face-timed at bedtime he was so sad and was awful. After that I had such a bad case of the sads myself. Even though I knew he was going to be okay, I felt very Eeyore about things.

But today, as promised, he got to leave the hospital. There was a happy Elliott / Nico reunion with lots of head rubbing and hugging. When Nico left the room, Elliott dropped the toy he was playing with and army-crawled across the house trying to catch up. An unexpected two-child success! He's on four medications (two until he's past this episode, two long-term) and still sounds a little rattly, but he is home. It feels pretty awesome to have my whole family under one roof again, really and truly.

cannula-free and face-timing his brother on Tuesday morning...possibly one of the cutest moments of their brotherhood to date

also an adorable trooper

Tuesday morning playroom time

with his fantastic new Duplo set

Wednesday: reunited!!